Why NHS money matters

Francis Elliott opines in The Times 25th March 2015: Why NHS money matters

NHSreality does NOT feel the money matters. More the philosophy and principles behind a health service trying to provide equitable care in The Information Age. Rationing being inevitable, is it best for it to to be overt or covert?

Will David Cameron sign the NHS’s prescription for cash injections rising to £8 billion in extra funding to meet the growing demands on the health service? It’s a question to which Ed Miliband would dearly love to know the answer, and one that could shape the outcome of the election.

George Obsorne signed off the first year of the extra funding demanded by Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, last December in the autumn statement. The chancellor described the £2 billion as a down-payment on the full £30 billion cost over the five years of the next Parliament that Mr Cameron has hinted heavily a Tory government would pay in full.

And yet last week’s budget, full of measures to neutralise Labour’s campaign attacks, was silent on Mr Miliband’s biggest weapon of all — the charge that the NHS isn’t safe with the Tories. Treasury sources admit that the row with Tory MPs over whether to commit 2 per cent of GDP on defence spending made a pledge to give the NHS above-inflation funding difficult.

Labour strategists say the benefits for the Conservatives of funding the Stevens plan would be limited because they were so little trusted by voters. “The Tories’ problem for the NHS is that they aren’t believed on the issue, turning up late to the party with a huge pile of cash doesn’t really help all that much,” one said.

But finding an extra £30 billion for the NHS has other attractions for the Tories. It would force Labour to find a similar sum — putting the spotlight back on Mr Miliband’s vulnerable area, his perceived fiscal irresponsibility.

With a big announcement expected, the chances remain high, therefore, that Mr Cameron will indeed commit to extra NHS funding and challenge the Labour leader to match the commitment and say how he would pay for it.

Francis Elliott is Political Editor

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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